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Dusty Knocks Tiktok, Doesn’t Propose Broad Protection of Personal Data

Donald Trump tried to ban Tiktok for making fun of him. Like most Trump initiatives, his Tiktok outburst achieved nothing. But now South Dakota Congressman Dusty Johnson is reviving the push to “Block the Tok” to save us and our data from Red China:

Today, U.S. Representative Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) introduced the Block the Tok Act, a bill that would prohibit TikTok from accessing U.S. citizens’ user data from within China and block the installation of TikTok on government devices. Earlier this year, reports indicated the Chinese parent company of TikTok was freely accessing sensitive user data such as passwords, keystrokes, browser history, and voice and facial recognition.

“According to TikTok’s own employees, ‘everything is seen in China,’” said Johnson. “It might seem trivial to go after an app known for viral dance videos, but TikTok is a national security concern. TikTok has more than one billion users, and China is using Americans’ information to advance its communist agenda. It’s no secret China’s goal is to replace the U.S. as the world’s superpower – Americans shouldn’t help China advance its agenda. Block the Tok keeps China’s hands off your personal information” [Rep. Dusty Johnson, press release, 2022.09.06].

Wait: government employees can put Tiktok on their government phones now? What federal manager, IT or otherwise, needs an act of Congress to tell them that nobody in the office except maybe one comms staffer (and that’s a big maybe) needs Tiktok at work? (I invite counterperspectives: can Tiktok improve any federal worker’s productivity?)

I appreciate Dusty’s effort to keep my personal data from falling into the hands of the Communist Chinese… although his effort is not quite as effective as my effort, which involves not using Tiktok. But I have a feeling that if Dusty really wants to prevent China from accessing our data and and using what it learns to influence us through what we see online, he’ll have to expand his bill to do more than ban China from accessing the data ByteDance collects from Tiktok users. China, Russia, and anyone else who wants to mess with our heads can probably learn just as much about Dusty, me, and the rest of us Americans by buying data from any number of third-party vendors about all the stuff we are so eagerly tapping and viewing all day long on our phones and other devices. Or the Maoists, Putinists, and other enemies of freedom can just buy ads on Facebook, sic their bot farms on Twitter, or just hack networks for whatever data they might find useful.

Tiktok is only a tiny part of the broader problem of data privacy. Given the resistance Dusty’s party and its Supreme Court nominees are showing to the concept of privacy, Dusty might have trouble mustering more than a nice rhymy slogan to prevent Americans’ personal data from falling into bad guys’ hands.

14 Comments

  1. Donald Pay 2022-09-07

    Dusty says, “It’s no secret China’s goal is to replace the U.S. as the world’s superpower – Americans shouldn’t help China advance its agenda. Block the Tok keeps China’s hands off your personal information.”

    Well, I’m under no illusion that my personal information is safe from any business or governmental use, Chinese or American. That’s why I limit my internet activity to a few sites. I use WeChat, because it’s the easiest way to communicate with my kid in China, but that’s all I do with WeChat. I’ve never been on TikTok or Twitter or My Space, if that’s still a thing, or anything else, except Facebook. A little self-control is all a person needs.

    But the thing that really boggles the mind is Dusty’s delusion that “China’s goal is to replace the U.S. as the world’s superpower.” That’s not the case. First, they don’t like the concept of “superpower.” If anything, they are challenging the US supposition that the US should be a superpower lording it over the world. In China’s view, as I understand it, they want to have a more secure hold on regional power that extends into the Pacific and along the Silk Road. In China’s view, the US should let China play in its sphere or influence. That’s more in line with Chinese history, and it’s concerning in itself. There is no reason to overstate what China’s goal is.

  2. Jake 2022-09-07

    Good thoughts, Don Pay. But, it’s been made known by the right winged GOP Republicans that you have GOT to throw out a “boogey man” to the rabid base of hate and fear that co-exist in their party. Other than the constant “Democrats are coming for your kids and guns and cancelling God, and their racist issues now they insist that those olive-skinned Chinese are comin’ after everything you got! Farmland et al!

  3. grudznick 2022-09-07

    Isn’t this Tik Tok business for posting dances at people? It should be banned entirely.

  4. P. Aitch 2022-09-07

    Come clean, Dusty. *pun intended – You’re a MAGA BOY and your public enemy is the truth. Don the Con had nuclear secrets of foreign countries that even our Generals and Admirals can’t see, in his laundry basket where he hid the “good stuff”.
    – The Tok is more protective of sanity than any other social media site. It’s China for gawd sakes. They have surveillance down to a science.
    “For obvious reasons, Trump doesn’t have a TikTok account. The company confirmed to TechCrunch its content policy around the Capitol riots will see it removing videos of Trump’s speeches to supporters. TikTok says that Trump’s speeches, where the president again reiterated claims of a fraudulent election, are being removed on the grounds that they violate the company’s misinformation policy.”

  5. Justin Van Ormer 2022-09-07

    Yet another ridiculous bill that does nothing but try to prove to maga losers that he listens.

  6. V 2022-09-07

    The youth who use these apps love it when someone like old man Johnson try to mess with their stuff. He’ll be Tokked for messing with them, as he should be.

    If government workers are using Tik Tok and the likes, they should be Docked the time they use while earning the taxpayer’s money.

    Dusty (love the pun above) has worthless plans, idol hands, and absolutely no appeal. I can’t take him seriously when he looks like Alfred E. Neuman’s brother. The old people around here that voted for him have no idea what Tik Tok is but they do know groceries are going up every week along with the sundries.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-07

    Yeah, P, if we’re worried about the Chinese getting a hold of private citizens’ data through apps citizens choose to use, then we should be even more worried about foreign agents getting a hold of top secret materials from Donald Trump’s unsecured resort, if not directly from a grifter ex-president willing to trade those documents for favors.

  8. W R Old Guy 2022-09-07

    Apparently one of the latest Tik Tok things is to expose your genitals to the sun for brief periods. The purpose is to provide more Vitamin D to your core thus enhancing your health.

    The preferred methods are to lay on your back, legs raised and spread or do a downward dog yoga move.

    I can see the Chinese rolling on the floor laughing now as they watch the video. Your neighbors may not be amused.

  9. P. Aitch 2022-09-07

    Great comparison, Cory.
    Q ~ Why do MAGA’s despise China yet coddle Russia?
    A ~ Because the Chinese aren’t white …

  10. grudznick 2022-09-07

    These dancing videos are much ado about nothing. Mr. Dusty is tilting and you fellows are all calling attention to him. Ignore the dancing videos or the dog downward butt upward videos, whatever it is you are watching movies of on your computer.

  11. All Mammal 2022-09-07

    “Block the Tok keeps China’s hands off your personal information” [Rep. Dusty Johnson]

    Yeah, like D Johnsons’s dorky bill keeps China’s hands off squat. D boy just loves big, huge government spending for nought. The government is wasting time and leaking info with a kiddie phone app. His solution is to hire more government to police the government’s own info. If you don’t want the thing, don’t use the thing. It has been easy as twirling hair to get by as long as I have without downloading an app, having a google, apple, facebook, etc account or even watching a tictok clip. It sure didn’t take an act of congress.

  12. grudznick 2022-09-07

    Ms. Mammal is righter than right. Stop dancing at your phone, and for sure stop complaining about ticktocks.

  13. Arlo Blundt 2022-09-07

    I neither tick nor tock and try like the devil not to conduct business over the internet or phone. (tough to avoid all together). The new high tech, digital reality has warped the people’s understanding of the importance of personal privacy. Right now, looks like there is no place left to hide.

  14. Guy 2022-09-07

    Just another gimmick from Dusty. The guy is a joke and not a very funny one. Dusty Johnson will never accomplish the serious business that Tim Johnson and Stephanie Herseth accomplished while they served South Dakotans in Congress. Dusty may say he’s against it, but, he really embodies the mindless chatter on “Tiktok” with all his hocus pocus grandstanding for his “Problem Creators” Caucus.

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